Friday, March 18, 2011

Bullying? No Way!

Everyone's different.
Everyone does things in different ways.
And guess what – everyone's similar in lots of ways too.

"It makes you think ... why can't people just be people?"
...Year 5 Student
(Bullying No Way)

March 18 is the Australian National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. People from government education departments and school communities are "working together to create learning environments where every student and school community member is safe, supported, respected, valued – and free from bullying, violence, harassment and discrimination."

Wouldn't that be wonderful! I would love to live in a society where we celebrated difference rather than singled it out for taunts and teasing or worse. I'm sure you would too! But what can we do as individuals to help that come to pass? One thing we can do is educate ourselves, and make sure we bring up these difficult topics on a personal, family, group and community level. The website, Bullying No Way, makes lots of suggestions that can help.

You'll find information about our rights, and the deeper issues that underpin bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence in organisations and society. There are practical strategies for the classroom, for students, for parents and for the whole school community. I really liked the ideas in Bystander Behaviour and Cyber Citizenship. The materials are aimed at schools and classrooms, but parents and individuals will certainly benefit from reading, thinking about, and discussing the issues raised. There is also a list of useful documents specifically targeting parents.

I think parents, teachers and students might bring the website to the attention of their school community, and encourage the implementation of its suggestions. There's a wealth of great material, carefully structured and very useful. Sometimes, when your child brings home a bully-related problem, you genuinely are at a loss for words and can feel quite helpless. It can help to read questions from kids and suggested answers, and you'll find lots of these on the faq page.

There's a special Chill Out Space for kids too. This shows submitted art work and writing, gives simple ideas for making a difference, and even has an arcade of activities for kids to participate in.

You know bullying is something that gets this chook wild. I wrote about it in Say NO to Bullying. My own picture book, Monster Maddie, is about a little girl who doesn't understand how to make friends and resorts to bullying ways to attract attention. I plan to talk to my friends and family about my stance on bullying today, and of course the wider world through my blog. Violence is not okay. Bullying is not okay. Let's make sure our voices are heard as we make a stand against violence and bullying.

Today Rebecca Newman interviews me on Soup Blog about Monster Maddie. I'd love you to come by and leave a comment.
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